Best practices to protect your organization against ransomware threatsBest practices to protect your organization against ransomware threatsVice President, Chief Information Security Officer, Google CloudVP/GM, Google Cloud Security

  • Endpoints designed for security: Chromebooks are designed to protect against phishing and ransomware attacks with a low on-device footprint, read-only, constantly invisibly updating Operating System, sandboxing, verified boot, Safe Browsing and Titan-C security chips. Rollout of ChromeOS devices for users who work primarily in a browser can reduce an organization’s attack surface, such as relying too much on legacy Windows devices, which have been found to often be vulnerable to attacks.

Pillar #3 – Detect: Define continuous ways to monitor your organization and identify potential cybersecurity events or incidents. In the case of ransomware, this may include watching for intrusion attempts, deploying Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions to detect exfiltration of sensitive data from your organization, and scanning for early signs of ransomware execution and propagation.  

The ability to spot and stop malicious activity associated with ransomware as early as possible is key to preventing business disruptions. Chronicle is a threat detection solution that identifies threats, including ransomware, at unparalleled speed and scale. Google Cloud Threat Intelligence for Chronicle surfaces highly actionable threats based on Google’s collective insight and research into Internet-based threats. Threat Intel for Chronicle allows you to focus on real threats in the environment and accelerate your response time.

DLP technologies are also useful in helping detect data that could be appealing to ransomware operators. With data discovery capabilities like Cloud DLP, you can detect sensitive data that’s accessible to the public when it should not be and detect access credentials in exposed code. 

Pillar #4 – Respond: Activate an incident response program within your organization that can help contain the impact of a security (in this case, ransomware) event.  

During a ransomware attack or security incident, it’s critical to secure your communications both internally to your teams and externally to your partners and customers. Many organizations with legacy Office deployments have shifted to Google Workspace because it offers a more standardized and secure online collaboration suite, and in the event of a security incident, a new instance can quickly be stood up to provide a separate, secure environment for response actions.

Pillar #5 – Recover: Build a cyber resilience program and back-up strategy to prepare for how you can restore core systems or assets affected by a security (in this case, ransomware) incident. This is a critical function for supporting recovery timelines and lessening the impact of a cyber event so you can get back to operating your business. 

Immediately after a ransomware attack, a safe point-in-time backup image that is known not to be infected must be identified. Actifio GO provides scalable and efficient incremental data protection and a unique near-instant recovery capability for data. This near-instant recovery facilitates identifying a clean restore point quickly, enabling resumption of business functions rapidly. Actifio GO is infrastructure-agnostic and can protect applications on-premises and in the cloud. 

In Google Workspace, if files on your computer were infected with malware but you sync them to Google Drive, you may be able to recover those files. Additionally, ensuring that you have a strong risk transfer program in place, like our Risk Protection Program, is a critical element of a comprehensive approach to managing cyber risk. 

Key ransomware prevention and mitigation considerations for business and IT leaders

As you plan for a comprehensive defense posture against ransomware threats, here are some key questions to consider:

  • Does your organization have a ransomware plan, and what does it entail? Remember to demand a strong partnership with your cloud providers based on a shared understanding of risk and security objectives. 

  • How are you defending your organization’s data, systems and employees against malware? 

  • Are your organization’s systems up to date and patched continuously? 

  • Are you watching for data exfiltration or other irregularities? 

  • What is your comprehensive zero trust approach, especially strongly authenticating my employees when they access information? 

  • Are you taking the right back ups to high assurance immutable locations and testing that they are working properly? This should include testing that does a periodic restore of key assets and data. 

  • What drills are you conducting to battle-test your organization’s risk management and response to cyber events or incidents? 

Ransomware attacks will continue to evolve 

Recently, ransomware groups have evolved their tactics to include stealing data prior to it being encrypted, with the threat of extorting this data through leaks. Additionally, some ransomware operators have used the threat of distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against victim organizations as an attempt to further compel them to pay ransoms. DDoS attacks can also serve as a distraction, occupying security teams while attackers seek to accomplish other objectives such as data exfiltration or encryption of business-critical data. By deploying Google Cloud Armor — which can scale to absorb massive DDoS attacks— you can help protect services deployed in Google Cloud, other clouds, or on-premise against DDoS attacks.

Protecting against ransomware is a critical issue for all organizations, and these questions and best practices are only the start of building a mature and resilient cybersecurity posture.  It’s important to remember that you can’t focus on a single piece of defense; you need a comprehensive cybersecurity program that enables you to identify, prevent, detect, respond, and recover from threats. Above all, you need a range of solutions from a battle-tested and highly-resilient cloud platform that works across these elements in an integrated way with your business. To learn more about how Google Cloud can help you implement a comprehensive cybersecurity program to protect against threats like ransomware and more, visit our Google Cloud Security Best Practices Center.